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FaceBook’s Mark Zuckerberg: The Age Of Online Privacy Is Dead, And We Killed It

by Melissa Smich on January 12, 2010

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg created quite a stir of controversy and debate in the online world following a TechCruch interview in front of a live audience this past weekend. What got everyone so heated? He said the age of online privacy is dead, and we killed it. Facebook only follows suit to the burial.

The once conservative advocate of online privacy has now changed the tune of his song to say this is a move they would have made when starting out many years ago if the online environment reflected it – which it now, apparently, does.

The only issue I have is that a change of heart on one’s principles, values and beliefs is not easy to sway… especially without a genuine sounding explanation. I wonder what he got in return for the promise of his first born?

In the interview, he says, “And then in the last 5 or 6 years, blogging has taken off in a huge way and all these different services that have people sharing all this information. People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people. That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.” He continues by saying it is Facebook’s duty to reflect societal norms, and a lack of privacy on the book is just that.

I can’t help but wonder – have blogging and tweeting removed our reticence and created online exhibitionists of us all?

Video from the TechCrunch Ustream channel

Is this a “ask and thou shalt receive” situation? Marshall Kirkpatrick from ReadWriteWeb doesn’t think so.  In his blog post Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over, he writes “I don’t buy Zuckerberg’s argument that Facebook is now only reflecting the changes that society is undergoing. I think Facebook itself is a major agent of social change and by acting otherwise Zuckerberg is being arrogant and condescending.”

Personally, online privacy is a huge issue and the topic generates a lot of interest from me. It intrigues and excites me because is a very multifaceted debate and the lines are so thin between good and evil. Say data mining for example, can be used for the evils of marketing or, on the good side, to contribute to breakthroughs in semantic web technology that will make everyday life easier.

Overall, I feel as though the web is our remaining “free” medium where one can truly get unfiltered thoughts, ideas and inspiration. There is so much purity and promise in that. Yet I also understand that there need to be watch dogs and regulators to prevent terrorist groups and online bullies… but, we also don’t want it to resemble 1984.

Do you think your privacy is ultimately gone, and we have ultimately offered it up as a societal evolution? Are we not quite there yet but well on our way? Are we to blame for the apparent death of online privacy? Is privacy even dead? Have we offered our souls on a silver platter in return for niche online celebrity? What are your thoughts on internet and its future? I’d love to hear from you.

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John W January 13, 2010 at 8:26 AM

Fantastic post. I have been considering starting a debate on this topic in other forums.

I refuse to believe online privacy is dead. We are the consumers of services. It might take paying for services, but the consumer model usually ends up paying off.

sarumbear January 13, 2010 at 9:25 AM

I don’t buy Zuckerberg’s argument. Of course he will say that. He is the main beneficiary of reduced privacy.

It is very early days. Look at Google’s recent actions against China. Privacy and Human Rights are one and the same. You break the first, you break the other.

It is against the law to torture someone, even if he or she gave permission. Soon lawmakers will realise that it is also against the law to tell the world who my friends are, even if I gave permission to.

Melissa Smich January 13, 2010 at 1:39 PM


John – which forums are you a part of? I’d love to check them out.

Sarumbear – I agree, but I wonder what the tipping point was for him to sell his soul and succumb to the latent privacy policy.

Do you guys have sites or blogs? what does that mean in the grand scale for the world wide web?

sarumbear January 13, 2010 at 6:55 PM

I don’t think he sold his soul. There is no one there controlling him. He is just a American, hence he is oblivious to history. Soon he will learn, when the board coup forces him out to settle the angry shareholders/users/goverments (delete as appropriate).

I have neither sites, nor blogs. I am not a writer. I read.

Peg January 28, 2010 at 1:10 AM

Celebrate, people, it’s Data Privacy Day. Spread the word!

AnthonyJohnson February 16, 2010 at 7:50 PM

It’s definitely a lot easier for people to shed their inhibitions online, but I don’t think that everyone is doing it.I have a blog and I share good bit of information on it, but not of the personal nature, just of the financial nature since that’s what it focuses on.

Randy5 May 28, 2010 at 8:16 AM

I don’t think everyone is an online exhibitionist, either. Many people I know just share basic facts about themselves on facebook. In ten years, however, who knows?

Stoddard October 6, 2010 at 9:03 AM

I agree that Facebook is just following social norms. Mark Zuckerberg isn’t the one telling people to share all kinds of intimate details on facebook; people willingly do that on their own.

Jepara November 8, 2010 at 8:38 AM

Site Information Good

Texas2Step August 23, 2011 at 9:29 AM

It’s true that not everyone’s an exhibitionist now, Randy5, but it sure seems like there are a lot more of them than there used to be.

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